By Erin Billups
As a public comment period comes to an end, opponents are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to enact a long-term ban on hydrofracking.
“Make the only decision that the science and the facts lead you to. New York State must not allow hydro-fractured drilling at this point in time,” said Manhattan State Senator Liz Krueger.
It’s a fight being waged all across the country. Earlier this week, scientists, doctors and engineers gathered in the Washington, D.C. area to discuss its impact to public health.
“We do not have the data. We don’t even know the chemicals we’re putting into the ground. The industry has said this is proprietary,” said Dr. Adam Law, an endocrinologist.
“The scientific evidence, clearly, is getting stronger and stronger, showing signs of harm. So I think that is causing all kinds of different government officials… to ask questions and hopefully to push the pause button on this,” said ecologist Sandra Steingraber of Ithaca College.
Growing concern and reports of contamination has lead the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a major study on the impacts to drinking water.
Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control called for a wider study of the potential effects on public health.
“I do think there are important problems with potentially significant public health consequences,” said Dr. Vikas Kapil of the CDC.
Fracking advocates argue that much of the concern to date is not based on facts or the 60-year history of hydrofracking in the U.S. They warn that further delays or a ban on hydrofracking would do more harm than good.
“In an economy that’s desperate for more jobs, that would be a foolish thing to do,” said John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute.
Still, members of the scientific and anti-fracking community argue that protecting future generations is worth the cost.
“Surely the burden of proof belongs on the shoulders of industry and the benefit of doubt belongs to children,” said Steingraber.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation will now move forward with its final report, and, if hydrofracking is approved for New York, will develop strict rules.